Search This Blog

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Among Us Rehearsal Game for String Orchestra


All week I've been using an 'Among Us' theme in my orchestra rehearsals.  On Monday, we worked together to identify measures that sounded 'sus' (or suspicious).  I broke those measures down into small warm-ups to help students master the necessary skills to improve.  Framing our rehearsal in this way kept students motivated to do the hard work and repetitions needed to help the group sound better.  On Friday, our big reward was to play AMONG US!  At first I was worried about playing the game because I didn't want to waste rehearsal time with only 2 weeks to go before our next concert.  I didn't need to worry because this game actually helped my students a TON.  They were learning, assessing, listening, and practicing with maximum effort. 

To introduce the game,  I found some great mood music on YouTube and incorporated it onto my slide so while I went over the rules, 'Among Us' music was playing.  It made students SO excited to play and they listened extra carefully to the rules with the dramatic music in the background.  

To play the game, I used google slides to show students a sequence of notes to practice.  We practiced the sequence together until students were all playing it correctly.  Some of these were warm-ups I designed to work on specific skills while others were specific measures from our concert music.  Next, I started the mood music (just clicked on the YouTube video I put on each slide) and students bowed their heads, closed their eyes, and held their bows up in the air.  The room was completely silent and still as I stealthily walked around the room and used my bow to gently tap the horse hair on the bows of 4 students...who then became the imposters. 

Next, I asked ONLY the imposters to open their eyes and look at the screen.  There they would discover their 'secret weapon.'  Imposters had to play the exercise with the 'secret weapon' technique to try to destroy our sound.  

All students opened their eyes while I switch the slide back to the original warm-up/note sequence.  We played the sequence while crew members tried to find anything in the performance that seemed 'off.'  Students were allowed 4 guesses after each round.  We played 3 rounds for each slide.

Students who were called out and NOT the imposter became ghosts.  They were allowed to roam the room and point at students who were 'sus' help the crewmates narrow down who to guess for the next round.

We played this game with 5 different note sequences/warm-ups.  I kept the pacing quick and we got a lot done.  Students were striving to play correctly and they listened so carefully to each other.  I could definitely hear improvement when we ran through out concert pieces after the game.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Spring fever? 5 rehearsal games to re-focus

Spring break is over.  We're in the home stretch and we're all feeling antsy.  It can be hard to maintain a focused rehearsal when everyone is trunky for summer vacation.  Here are a few games to get students moving, listening, and focusing.  My students are grades 6-7 and they love these games.  I think older and younger students would enjoy these as well!  

1.  Signs

In an ensemble, students must be aware of other players and match technique, intonation, bowing, etc.  In this game, students practice paying attention to a 'leader' and must imitate every action the leader does.  Have students sit or stand in a circle.  Choose one student as a guesser and have them stand in the corner with eyes closed or in the hall while the group chooses the leader. All students follow the actions of the leader while the guesser enters and circle and watches to guess who the leader of the group is.  The leader should keep changing up movements as the group follows.  The guesser has 3 guesses.  This game could also be done while sitting as a regular orchestra's more difficult, but it teaches students to find ways to 'watch' and be aware of each other.

You can do a similar game with bowing in a rehearsal.  Choose a student to stop their bow...and every other student must stop their bow when the leader stops.  Or a leader can switch to pizzicato and the group must also switch to pizzicato...etc.  It gets students really listening and paying attention.

2. Pass the Beat Around the Room

The easiest way to explain this one is to watch THIS VIDEO.

This game is more fun than it looks.  It requires concentration and silly mistakes will be made.  Once students have the pattern, we replace the word 'beat' with a hand clap.  If a student says ' beat,' they are out.  Then we replace the word, 'room' with a foot stomp.

This game helps students maintain a steady beat and focus on what comes next.  It's a great way to get a group moving and thinking.

3. Zip, Zap, Boing

This is a quick-thinking group game that re-energizes students and activates their brains to pay attention, follow directions, and focus!  Read the ZIP, ZAP, BOING instructions HERE.   After you read the rules, watch THIS VIDEO to see how it's done.  My students loved this one!

4. Eyes

This is a fun elimination game.  It can be used to practice moving, responding to certain beats in a measure.  While stand in a circle, have all students put their head down.  You can start some music or a drum beat.  Have all students lift their heads and look at anyone else in the circle on beat 4.  If they make eye contact with another person, both people are out.  Continue until one person is left.

5. Silent Ball

I love this game because it's quick paced and SILENT!  If your class is noisy and driving you crazy...this is the game for you.  The game teaches coordination, self-control, and awareness.  Here's how to play:  1. Put all instruments away for safety.  2.  Students stand on a chair.  3.  No talking...if a student talks, they are out and must sit down.  3. Using the lightweight bouncy grocery store balls, have students gently toss a ball to each other.  Students must pay attention to where the ball is and catch it when it is thrown to them.  If they don't catch the ball, they are out and must sit down.  4. If a student does a bad (uncatchable) toss, that student is out.  5.  No throwing a people's backs.  6.  Forming alliances is allowed. 

Once students get good at tracking one ball, I start to add up to 2 more balls.  It's tricky to keep track of multiple balls in play.